Gaining a 'proper sense' of what happens out there: An 'Academic Bush Camp' to promote rural placements for students

Amy T. Page, Sandy J. Hamilton, Maeva Hall, Kathryn Fitzgerald, Wayne Warner, Barbara Nattabi, Sandra C. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Undergraduates who undertake rural placements often choose a rural career. Reluctance from universities to send students to rural settings limits placement numbers. The Western Australian Centre for Rural Health (WACRH) invited allied health and nursing academics and clinical placement coordinators from Western Australian (WA) universities to an Academic Bush Camp. Based on situated learning theory, this camp modelled student programs through experiential learning and structured workshops. It aimed to build relationships and showcase innovative rural learning opportunities. Objective: To build relationships and showcase innovative rural learning opportunities. Design: An evaluation of a residential camp based on situated learning theory. Setting: The camp stated and finished in Geraldton, WA and was centered in Mt Magnet, WA a remote town 600 kilometres northeast of Perth. Participants: WACRH invited allied health and nursing academics and clinical placement coordinators from Western Australian (WA) universities. Intervention: This camp modelled student programs through experiential learning and structured workshops. Online pre- and post-camp questionnaires included open-ended questions and questions on a 5-point Likert scale. Responses were analysed in SPSS 22 using descriptive statistics and Wilcoxon signed-rank test. Follow-up phone interviews six months later assessed longer-term reflections and changes in student placement practice. Main outcome measures: The main outcome measure was whether the camp met participants' expectations, and their knowledge about and interest in WACRH's programs. Results: Twelve academics from five WA universities and seven health disciplines attended. Nine had previously lived or worked rurally. The camp met participants' expectations and all would recommend the opportunity to a colleague. Many valued the interaction with community and clinical placement partners and would have preferred more of this. The camp increased awareness of WACRH's programs and benefits of longer rural placements and a service-learning environment. Six months later, participants' familiarity with WACRH's placement model, supports and staff had led to an enhanced willingness to place students. Conclusion: Rural academics can influence rural placement intentions by demonstrating the infrastructure, learning and academic support available. A camp experience increases metropolitan academics' awareness of rural placement programs and willingness to encourage student participation. Participants with rural backgrounds appeared more receptive to rural learning possibilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-47
Number of pages7
JournalThe Australian Journal of Rural Health
Volume24
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Rural workforce development
  • Student placement
  • Teaching and learning
  • Undergraduate teaching
  • Workforce planning

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